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CEOs and self-employed most optimistic about post-lockdown growth

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards - The Institute of Leadership & Management
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As the country begins to emerge from lockdown, new research from The Institute of Leadership & Management ‘Life after lockdown: future of work’, explores the predicted changes to the workplace following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Cautious optimism among the most senior leaders

The research reveals almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of leaders and managers are optimistic about the future of their organisations and only 1 per cent fear they will go out of business.

The results found that 61 per cent of leaders and managers believe their organisations will continue to operate at the same size as pre-pandemic, and a further 12 per cent are confident their businesses will grow.

CEOs, followed by self-employed leaders, are most optimistic about their business’ growth.

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “Higher levels of optimism about the future, particularly in the SME sector and among CEOs, are encouraging. Lockdown has, in many organisations, created new ‘can do’ cultures, with 92 per cent of workers believing their workplaces have adjusted well to the changes. This suggests that many leaders and managers have a new confidence not only in their own resilience but also in that of their teams.”

Less confidence in specific sectors

Charities, professional services, education, engineering / manufacturing and construction are all among those sectors feeling less confident about their future.

A significant 26 per cent of those who responded fear their businesses will shrink, and the same percentage expect to leave their current job.

About one third of self-employed leaders see their businesses contracting in size.

A day at the office – a thing of the past?

Only one in three people expect to return to their previous workplace and half of those that responded now believe homeworking is here to stay.

A further 33 per cent believe their employer will reduce the use of formal office space and 60 per cent believe that face-to-face meetings and business travel will decrease. Half also believe their organisations will invest more in remote working.

Kate continued: “Despite challenges around technology and workspace we found that many predict some of the changes brought about by Covid-19 – such as homeworking, reduced travel time for commuting and business meetings – are here to stay. Many workers have demonstrated they can work from home, yet we also found that homeworking affects individual workers differently. Many younger workers find working from home more problematic, as their living arrangements often have more distractions and finding an appropriate workspace is more challenging.”

Kate advised: “Leaders and managers should capitalise on this opportunity to work differently and invest in learning how to lead distributed teams sustainably and consistently because such flexible working not only contributes to better wellbeing, it also improves productivity.”

Survey details:

  • 61 per cent of leaders and managers think their businesses will survive, and 12 per cent predict future growth.
  • Homeworking is here to stay – only 1 in 3 (33 per cent) of leaders and managers think they’ll return to working in the location they worked pre-lockdown.
  • 3 in 5 (60 per cent) believe face-to-face meetings and business travel will reduce.
  • 20 per cent think they will move organisations after the pandemic.
  • 1 in 3 (33 per cent) think employers will reduce the use of formal office space.
  • Half think there will be a greater investment in homeworking.


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